The New Dawn (Monrovia)

Liberia: Why Speaker Tyler, Just Why?

editorial

Photo: Helen Andreasson/UNDP
A police officer monitors a voting queue.

Debate on President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf's recent visit to the United States of America continues to be a major agenda item in several quarters of the Liberian society.

Her reported comments on the seizure of voter's cards by market women during the 2005 elections in her interest received mix and unfavorable reactions, while those on the selfish agenda of members of the House of Representatives resulted to a 'war of words', especially from some members of the House, including Speaker Alex Tyler.

On Wednesday, October 19, 2012, Speaker Tyler went on 'the offensive', by-passing the main issue relating to the huge benefits being enjoyed by Liberian Lawmakers to the detriment of Liberian civil servants, and demanding an immediate retraction from President Sirleaf for the comments made against them (lawmakers) during her visit to the United States.

"In the spirit of coordination, cooperation and peace, we, the members of the House of Representative of the 53rd Legislature call on the President to in similar manner retract her remarks "that the Legislature places self-interest above the country's ... and I did not give it to them, they took it, especially so when the President has the constitutional power to have expressed her disagreement through the use of her veto power," The Speaker noted.

As a much Tyler's news conference on last Wednesday may have had the objective of attracting heartfelt sympathy from the public, especially those they claim they represent, he should have equally discussed the main issue abide that may have instigated the President's reported remarks against their interest in the United States-and that has to do with the huge and extra benefits they allotted on themselves from the Nine Million US Dollars added the 2012/2013 National Budget.

From an analysis of the 2012/2013 budget, it is no secret that the Legislature and Executive Branch of Government allotted for themselves huge sums of money, covering various benefits under the budget line general claims, down-playing the issue of adjustments in the salaries poor civil servants under the guise of the "payroll being blotted with illegally employed, ghosts, duplicates and temporary personnel that was costing the government more than US$20M per year.

Even if the Executive Branch of Government had made a representation to the Legislature, during the 2012/2013 budget process on Capitol hill, that the payroll of civil servants was infested with ghosts and what-have-you as claimed by the honourable Speaker during his news conference, vehement resistance to such representation by them as direct representatives of the people among whom are civil servants, was equally necessary decision.

Even though the President, in consonance with the Constitution of Liberia, may have had the power to veto the budget passage had she been in disagreement with what the lawmakers may have done against the interest of civil servants, it was also incumbent on the "representatives of the people" to over-ride such decision from the Executive Branch to down-play civil servants by adding at least the amount of US$100.00 to the least salary from the additional US$9M instead of only prioritizing their personal aggrandizements.

Moreover, Speaker Alex Tyler and colleagues should not have waited until the President's remarks against them on the matter before making such revelation. They should have initially resisted publicly as the people's representatives if they did not favour such decision to avoid the embarrassment in which they are, if they indeed do have consciences, and not to scapegoat the issue as they are currently.

Infect, why must Ellen even apologize or heed to their demand? Just why?

If and only if Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf actually said in the United States that members of the House of Representatives were seeking personal interest ahead of national interest, she was absolutely right, and should harbour no regret to retract what she said because the FACTS ARE AVAILABLE to most Liberians-the people they claim to be representation.

Tyler and his likes on Capitol Hill must understand that every election introduces new political variables characterized by critical even by the illiterate; as such in future elections, no amount of lies, deceit or false impressions will attract the support of the people now that they know them.

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